Living Together: Minority People and Disadvantaged Groups in Japan
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Responding to the U.N. human rights movements, the Japanese government has been committed to promote and guarantee the human rights of minority and disadvantaged people, through the ratification of the international covenants such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1979, and the 1996 Law of Promotion of Measures for Human Rights Protection and the Decade of the Human Rights Education (1995-2004).  Minority people and disadvantaged groups, such as the Ainu, the Okinawans, Buraku people, Korean permanent residents, foreign newcomers, women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities have asserted their rights, and the Japanese people have recognized and come to understand the rights of minorities and disadvantaged people.  The discrepancy in educational achievements and socioeconomic status between the majority and minority and disadvantaged people has been narrowing through affirmative action and human rights measures. 

Human rights education started in 1969 as Dōwa education for the elimination of discrimination against the Buraku.  Human rights education in schools is taught through textbook-centered social science classes in the formal curriculum.  After successful lobbying by minority activists, the social science textbooks now describe the histories and cultures of minority peoples in their own words.  Many schools have an annual Human Rights Meeting during the Week of Human Rights in December, and discuss the rights of minority peoples through films, lectures, performances, and essay writing.  Learning about minority and disadvantaged people at school helps students to broaden their understanding and appreciation of their human rights.

The recommendations of the U.N. Human Rights Committee regarding periodical reports from the Japanese government and counter-reports from human rights NGOs have helped the government strengthen its commitment to the human rights of minority and disadvantaged people.

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